Wheating “Kicks” His Way to National Male Track Athlete of the Year Honors

By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA

June 16, 2010   

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Wednesday that Oregon senior Andrew Wheating has been named the 2010 National Male Track Athlete of the Year for Outdoor Track & Field in Division I as voted by the nation’s coaches.

At last weekend’s finale to the NCAA Championships, Wheating ran four races in four days to capture national crowns in the 800 and 1500 meters, an accomplishment only matched four other times in the 89-year history of the NCAA Championships. Oregon’s Joaquim Cruiz was the last to pull off the double in 1984 and matched Wheating in winning a second-straight 800-meter title in pursuit of the feat.

Wheating’s 800-meter run on Friday was highly anticipated as he and Virginia freshman Robby Andrews – the NCAA indoor champion – would once again go head-to-head in what was built to be another classic rematch. Wheating (1:45.69) decided to use his “kick” earlier in the competition than usual, covering the final 200 meters in 26.20 seconds, to hold off the surging Andrews (1:46.83) who would place second despite entering the final curve in last place. With the victory, Wheating became the first American since 1994 to defend an NCAA 800-meter crown.

The 1500-meter final on Saturday was much more wide open, with many in the mix who had a legitimate shot at the title. Covering the first half in around 2:12, the pack kept the pace slow and ripe for the picking. Wheating would lead a final Duck charge to the finish line as Oregon claimed the first 1-2-3 NCAA sweep in the history of the event with A.J. Acosta and Matthew Centrowitz rallying behind. Wheating’s winning time of 3:47.94 was the slowest by a 1500-meter champ since 1957 (including mile conversions as compiled by Track & Field News).

Wheating would finish the season with the second-fastest collegiate time in the 800 (1:45.69, NCAA final) and the best collegiate time of 2010 in the 1500 – 3:37.52 recorded in being the first qualifier from the West portion of the NCAA’s quarterfinals.

Earlier in the season, Wheating won his third straight Pac-10 title at 800 meters in 1:47.77, becoming the first to win three-straight conference titles in the event since Oregon’s David Mack (1980-82). Wheating also ran a leg of the Ducks’ 4×400 that finished fourth at the conference meet; all in helping Oregon win their fourth-straight league crown. Wheating opened season at the Penn Relays, where he anchored Oregon to a win in the distance medley relay (9:30.69) and a second-place finish in the 4×800 meter relay (7:15.55).

Wheating, a native of Norwich, Vt., has now won five NCAA titles, including two as member of Oregon’s distance medley relay

Oregon has been well represented in this category as Galen Rupp was the winner of the National Track Athlete of the Year honor a year ago.

Wheating has also been on The Bowerman Watch List for most of the season, with the one exception being update number four on April 7. The list of the 10 final candidates for The Bowerman will be announced Monday while the three male and three female finalists for the award will be announced the week of July 12.

The USTFCCCA’s National Female Track Athlete of the Year and the National Male Field Athlete of the Year will be announced Thursday, followed by more national awards spread through the next several days.

Past Winners:

2010: Andrew Wheating, Oregon
2009: Galen Rupp, Oregon
2008: Richard Thompson, LSU
2007: Walter Dix, Florida State
2006: Xavier Carter, LSU

USTFCCCA 2010 National Award Winners, Division I, Outdoor Track & Field

National Track Athlete of the Year: Andrew Wheating, Oregon
National Field Athlete of the Year: Thursday, June 17
National Assistant Coach of the Year: Wednesday, June 23
National Coach of the Year: Friday, June 25

National Track Athlete of the Year: Thursday, June 17
National Field Athlete of the Year: Friday, June 18
National Assistant Coach of the Year: Tuesday, June 22
National Coach of the Year: Thursday, June 24